Cindy’s Birthday & A Full Day On The Boat

A few weeks ago, I had asked Cindy what she wanted for her birthday this year? She told me she wanted two things. One of them was a full day of shopping in Gainesville without me around so she could spend as much time in ANY store she wanted to. Normally Cindy doesn’t like to shop too much, and I HATE shopping for clothes with her, so I was happy to give her that present.

Her second request was a full day spent on the boat alone with just me. Since we’re almost always entertaining guests, it’s nice to have a day where it’s just the two of us without anyone else around. I felt honored that my wife would want to spend a long day with just me on her special day.

Mother Nature cooperated perfectly and gave us clear blue skies, mid-80 degree temperatures with a slight off-shore breeze and calm water.

We had woken up late after sleeping in, ate a nice breakfast and loaded up the boat with snacks, drinks and fuel. We were on the water by noon with a big high tide to allow us to float around without any worries of hitting a sandbar or getting stuck.

My 3 Favorite Things in Life, Well 4 if you include the Boat

My 3 Favorite Things in Life, Well 4 if you include the Boat

The next few hours were spent without clothes on, the radio blasting, the smell of suntan oil wafting in the breeze and the wind blowing us where ever it wanted to. Days like this are meant to be enjoyed to the max and we were taking every advantage of it.

Topless_On_BoatAround 5pm, we were getting a bit hungry, so Cindy called into Island Pizzeria and ordered us a pizza and a salad. I don’t know if it can get much better than pulling up to the dock on your boat with the owner of the pizza place bringing your pizza right to the boat.



The Box reads “Happy Birthday from Mike and Crew at Island Pizzeria

Dave, Cris’s husband from the Pizzeria likes to mess with Cindy and her diet she’s on. Dave knows that she’s trying to eat as few carbs as possible, so he always sends his signature dish, Garlic Knots, as a joke to entice her. The joke being that they’re so damn good, you cant open the box without finishing every last morsel. Dave and Cindy have a running joke because she messed up one night and called him Mike while she was thanking them in a public toast in the Tiki Bar. So when we opened up the extra box that was delivered, she found this note.

We motored the boat back out behind the islands and killed the motor. We laid on the front deck of the boat gobbling up our dinner and watching the sun set off to the west. The tide was on its way out pretty fast so we headed over towards North Key where we found ourselves a sandbar to explore.


Sand bars are a lot of fun to explore and you never know what you’re going to find washed up. I love following the little footprints, the tracks left by the sea creatures and the designs the water has left behind.


From the sandbar, we had two options. The tide was too low to get back to the Low-Key Hideaway dock, so we either had to put the boat back on the trailer, or wait till late in the evening when the tide would be high enough to get up to our dock. I asked Cindy what she wanted to do and her suggestion was to just put the boat back on the trailer. That was till we were motoring up to the City Dock. She looked at me and said “I’m not ready to go home yet!

Cindy_Bonish_LegsAs far as I was concerned, we could spend the night on the boat. She thought about it for a few minutes and said “Ok, lets just stay out till we can get back to the Low-Key Hideaway.”


LKH_WakeThat meant we would be on the boat for many more hours, but I wasn’t complaining. The sun had set, the breeze was blowing just enough to keep any bugs off of us and we had our jackets and a big blanket to cuddle in. We motored towards Atsenia Otie Key until we hit the sandbar. I killed the motor and we turned up the radio. We danced on the deck of the boat till our legs were tired and we were sweating from the exercise. We then plopped ourselves down, wrapped us up in the comforter Cindy had brought and laid there watching the full moon come up.

It was a magical night as we laid there talking for hours. Watching the stars move above us in the heavens, listening to the Night Herons bark at one another on the island behind us and singing along to songs we liked on the radio. Hours later we awoke from a nap as I felt the boat moving slightly. Still having another hour to wait for the tide, we watched more stars and sang more songs.

When we finally felt there was enough water, we headed towards the Low-Key Hideaway under the light of the full moon. We took the inside channel and weaved our way through the shallow canals leading through the interior of Cedar Key. All was quiet and you’d have thought the little town was abandoned with so few lights on inside the homes.

Coming up the #3 Channel, I was up on plane to stay on top of the water due to how shallow it still was when I looked back at our wake with the Stern Lights on. Shimmering off the full moon light were a pod of dolphins playing in our wake. We were going way too fast and the light was too dim to try and take any photos, so I just watched as they played for a few minutes.

Cindy yelled for me to hit the big spot light so we could see the SS Minnow behind the motel. We use it as our water level indicator to know whether we can make it into the dock or not.

She looked back at me and yelled “It’s wayyyy too shallow still!

I was flying at this point with probably nothing more than the prop in the water. I just told her to hold on and pushed the throttle up a little further. I looked back at one point with a rooster tail of mud spraying about 50′ behind us and pinned the throttle. We rounded the last oyster bed heading for our dock at about 30mph. Within the last 20′, I just turned the key off with the motor pinned. The boat came to an immediate halt while a wake of mud came up and over the stern of the boat.

Cindy let out a big sigh and said “Holy Shit! I thought you were going to hit the dock at full speed!

I knew we were skimming atop the mud, so with the prop acting as an anchor, as soon as I killed the motor, it just ground us to a halt.

Shot under the Full Moon Light - Canon 5DMKII - 0.8sec, F/2.8 ISO 6400

Shot under the Full Moon Light – Canon 5DMKII – 0.8sec, F/2.8 ISO 6400

At this point, it was 11:30pm. We waited another half hour, sipping one last beer before the tide was in enough that I could paddle us into the dock where we tied the boat up and called it a day. We’d been on the boat for 12 full hours and what a birthday it was for the both of us.

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8 Responses to “Cindy’s Birthday & A Full Day On The Boat”

  1. DebbyApril 26, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    Man, what a day – sounds absolutely perfect and I, too, would pick that for my birthday celebration, every single part of it!!

    • Pat BonishApril 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      Thanks Debby, hope you guys are having fun and staying warm!

  2. Wallace TwiggApril 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Looked like a great day. Nancy and I have done similar outings up here on the Chesapeake Bay. We sold our boat a couple of years ago and bought an RV. Naked RVing isn’t easy. At least we don’t have to worry about sandbars!

    • Pat BonishApril 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Naked RVing is easy, you just have to either keep the blinds closed or let the neighbors enjoy 🙂

  3. PatriceApril 26, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Your blog about Cindy’s birthday just made me smile and confirms why we love the two of you so much. I could visualize your entire day and night (well almost!). You are not only a beautiful and talented photographer but you are a gifted writer.

    • Pat BonishApril 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

      Thank you so much Patrice. You must have a dirty mind if you can visualize the entire thing…LOL

  4. Marcia HittJune 7, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    My former brother in law, Terry Hitt, showed us all around some of those spots. He too is a phenomenal wildlife photographer who lived there for years in Cedar Key.

    • Pat BonishJanuary 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

      Does he post his photos anywhere Marcia? I love to see Cedar Key through other photographers eyes

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